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Backpack & Budget

A Wealth of Options in New Zealand

August 20, 1995|LUCY IZON

There's no shortage of options for the traveler on a budget in New Zealand.

The first stop for most international visitors is Auckland International Airport. Next to the airport information desk, travelers can find a free phone that's connected to the Auckland City Hostel. They can use it to check bed availability and to arrange transportation into town. The Super Shuttle, a 24-hour door-to-door transportation service, offers members of some hosteling networks special rates, so be sure to inquire.

The Auckland City Hostel is in a multistory former hotel at the corner of City Road and Liverpool Street, telephone 011-64-9-309-2802. It's open 24 hours a day and offers twin-, double- and four-bedded family rooms, plus a common room, sun deck, kitchen, and a full information and travel service.

This is one of 54 hostels affiliated with the YHA (Youth Hostel Assn.) network. Hostels in this network generally offer beds for $8.75-$11 per night, but urban areas can be slightly more expensive. Most beds are in multi-share rooms; however, some hostels also have twin and family rooms. Blankets, duvets, pillows and bed linens are supplied. There are no curfews or duties, and guests have 24-hour access. The YHA network has arranged discounts on domestic transportation and activities for visitors carrying Hosteling International membership cards.

One of the backpacker bus services, in New Zealand, Magic Travelers Network, has arranged special packages combining its alternative transportation and YHA accommodations. Magic buses follow a 14-day itinerary around New Zealand. Tickets, however, are valid for six months, so travelers can move at the speed they want. The bus picks up and drops off at the hostel doors.

At this time transportation plus 14 nights' accommodation costs $379. Between Nov. 1 and March 3--high season--rates will rise to $439. Transportation plus 21 nights' accommodation is $443 ($506 in high season), and transportation with 28 nights' accommodation is $506 ($569 in high season).

Similar packages are available offering more limited use of the transportation route (you can travel between Auckland and Christchurch). For details, contact Magic Travelers Network in Auckland at 011-64-9-358-5600. These packages are also being sold in North America by the Adventure Center in Los Angeles at (510) 654-1879.

For budget accommodations, VIP Backpackers Resorts-New Zealand is a network of 64 hostels for international visitors, with self-cook kitchens and laundry facilities.

You don't have to be a member to stay at one of the VIP hostels. However, the network has developed a discount card that is valid for $1 off each night's accommodation plus transportation and activities. The card costs $16.25, and it can be purchased at any of the VIP hostels or at the Auckland International Airport Information Centre. Ask for a free hotel handbook, which gives details on all the facilities, their locations and sightseeing opportunities.

For further information on New Zealand, contact the New Zealand Government Tourist Office at (800) 888-5494. Ask for the 1995 New Zealand Vacation Planner.

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